Diplomatic ‘incident’ no threat to Taiwan-Haiti relations: MOFA

Taiwanese ambassador Liu Bang-zyh (CNA file photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A reported “incident” between Taiwan’s top diplomat in Haiti and the president of that country does not threaten formal relations between the two countries, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

Haiti is one of 15 countries in the world that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

On March 12, Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that Port-au-Prince is waiting for Taiwan to send a new ambassador to replace current Taiwanese ambassador Liu Bang-zyh (劉邦治) after a “small incident” in January, quoting Haitian foreign minister Claude Joseph.

Meanwhile, local media in Taiwan reported recently that Liu was involved in a heated disagreement with Haitian President Jovenel Moise over a bilateral project as a result of which he was ordered to leave the country within 72 hours.

MOFA confirmed that Liu is currently in Taiwan.

“Ambassador Liu returned to Taiwan for official business,” said Yui Tah-ray (俞大㵢), director-general of MOFA’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs at a regular press conference on Tuesday, without revealing when Liu arrived in Taiwan.

Liu is still Taiwan’s ambassador to Haiti, Yui stressed, adding that bilateral communications remain smooth and relations between the two countries are strong.

“The incident is unrelated to diplomatic ties. Diplomatic relations between the two countries are still cordial,” Yui stressed.

Meanwhile, a source with knowledge of the controversy told CNA that Liu left Haiti as per MOFA’s schedule and was still accorded diplomatic courtesies at the airport.

The source confirmed Liu had a difference of opinion with the Haitian side over the processing of a proposed bilateral project during a meeting in January, but wondered why that incident had been leaked to the press now.

Liu, who is in his second tour of duty in Haiti, tackled the project in accordance with the position of Taiwan’s government and in the interest of both nations, the source said.

Although there was a discussion over the process, Liu did not in any way behave impolitely with a certain high level Haitian official, the source added, without mentioning who the high official was.

Although MOFA said there is no time table as to when Liu will return to his post in Haiti, the Taiwan side is willing to dispatch people for further discussions.

In the meantime, Oliver Hsiao (蕭乃丞), Taiwan’s charge d’affaires in Haiti is maintaining good interactions with the Haitian side and met Moise and Joseph in early March, according to the ministry.

Taiwan provides assistance to Haiti in the fields of infrastructure and social welfare developments, such as rice donations, and recently a project to help build a power grid in Port-au-Prince, according to MOFA.

Since losing two diplomatic allies, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, to China in September 2019, Taiwan’s formal relations with its remaining diplomatic allies, including Haiti, have become an issue that attracts much public attention.